Walaku – ‘Grilled’ Nasi Lemak with a Luxurious Twist!
Nasi lemak is a hearty local dish that is adored by Singaporeans. It has the perfect combination of flavours and textures — fluffy and fragrant coconut rice, sweet and spicy sambal as well as crunchy ikan belts. What’s not to love? Sure, we’ve all had various renditions of this dish, whether it be with beef rendang or a juicy fried chicken wing. But have you had a nasi lemak with lobster at Walaku before?
Walaku is a Halal eatery that serves up traditional local dishes with a modern twist. They have opened three outlets so far, including two hawker stalls at Yishun and Bedok. We decided to pay their latest outlet, a brand new bistro at Joo Chiat Road, a visit.
As I walked into Walaku, I found myself admiring its chic and modern interior. This definitely was a sign of the upscale nature of the food that was to come. I flipped open the menu and went straight to their signature Nasi Lemak ‘Bakar’ page. Walaku’s nasi lemak is exceptionally unique. They grill their coconut rice, which is tightly wrapped in a banana leaf. According to the chef, this allows the rice to be adequately infused with the banana leaf’s subtle sweet flavour and aroma. While they serve inventive variations such as the Ikan Bakar Salmon ($11.80) and the Kari Soft Shell Crab ($11.80), they also have the Ayam Goreng Rempah ($7.80) which might appeal to more traditional palates. However, I had to go for the pièce de résistance, the Garlic Cheesy Lobster ($22)!
A sizeable whole lobster is stuffed with garlic and cheese before being baked in the oven. As a finishing touch, the cheese is torched for a smokey finish. After I had finished gawking at the lobster, I looked at the rest of the dish. All the typical accompaniments were present, including the ikan bilis and nuts, slices of cucumber and a fried egg. Interestingly, the sambal was encased in, and grilled together with, the coconut rice.
Unfortunately, I felt that the dish was a bit of a letdown. The star of the dish, the lobster, was overcooked so it was too chewy. In addition, even though the banana leaf kept the rice moist, I couldn’t really detect the fragrance of = coconut. Once everything was combined in one spoonful, I felt that the sweetness of the sambal overpowered the flavours of the coconut rice and the lobster. However, even though my colleague agreed that the rice was lacking in coconut flavour, he quite enjoyed the lobster and also the sambal, as it only had a hint of spiciness. If I were to visit Walaku again, I’ll order the Ayam Goreng Rempah instead.
Despite the initial disappointment, my jaw dropped when I ate their Seafood Lemak Padang Pasta ($15.90). This fusion dish is created with Western cooking techniques and carries authentic Asian flavours. Walaku makes their own ‘lemak padang’ paste, which is fried in a pan to release its deep aroma. Coconut milk is added to enrich the sauce before linguine is mixed in. To complete the dish, a meticulously poached egg is added on top.
The Seafood Lemak Padang Pasta was truly mouth-watering! The sauce was beautifully rich, and creamy. The blend of spices in the lemak padang was enchanting and did not overwhelm one bit. The richness of the dish was perfectly balanced out by the salty and refreshing seafood which consists of prawns, squid and New Zealand mussels. I particularly enjoyed the mussels, which were plump and fresh. Cut open the poached egg and watch the golden yolk flow over and coat the pasta slowly. I felt that the pasta tasted better without mixing in the yolk as it mellowed out the flavour of the lemak padang.
To complete our meal, we had the Onde Onde Martabak ($6.50). The martabak is a stuffed thick pancake that is popular in Indonesia. This version is made with a pandan pancake batter which is filled with grated palm sugar and coconut. This was also one of the highlights of the meal. The pancake was fluffy, yet dense and chewy. The crunchy coconut shavings were just the icing on the cake! Walaku offers a wide variety of martabak, so do head down and give them a try!
In my opinion, the Seafood Lemak Padang Pasta and the Onde Onde Martabak are must-try dishes. Although the Lobster Nasi Lemak was a tad disappointing, I’ll definitely visit Walaku again to try their other innovative dishes!
Address: 102 Joo Chiat Rd, Singapore 427396
Mobile: 9781 7844
Opening Hours: 11am to 9:30pm daily, closed on Monday.
MissTamChiak.com made an anonymous visit and paid its own meal at the stall featured here.
Let’s build a food community that helps to update the food news in Singapore! Simply comment below if there’s any changes or additional info to Walaku. We will verify and update from our side. Thanks in advance!